Shahabuddin Sarani in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in an appalling state where a bike rider tries to negotiate the potholes yesterday. The authorities have turned a blind eye to the repairs of the street. The photo was taken near Islamic Foundation building. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq
It was around noon on Monday. Ratna, a housewife in the capital's Kalabagan, was on her way to meet her relatives at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Agargaon by rickshaw with her two-year-old child on her lap.
She asked the rickshaw-puller to be careful as soon as they reached Shahabuddin Sharani near the Islamic Foundation building as she was well aware of a large pothole hidden under the stagnant water at the beginning of the road.
Thanks to the poor drainage system, the particular part of the road was under knee-deep water following a slight rainfall a few hours earlier.
As they were crossing the area, a wheel of the rickshaw suddenly got stuck in the giant pothole. The rickshaw-puller had to get down and use all his muscle-power to get the vehicle to safety.
At one point, the rickshaw-wheel came off and Ratna along with her child fell into the murky water. Five packs of Biriyani (a delicious rice dish) and sweets they were taking to their relative's house went under the dirty water as well.
Later, Ratna and her child were rescued by local and several other rickshaw-pullers.
The entire incident happened while this correspondent was talking to two students of a nearby school, who had had a similar accident at the same spot, barely five minutes earlier.
The rickshaw carrying the students—Mohammad Amzad Hossain and Rafiqul Islam Abdullah— had toppled over on its side after hitting the same hidden pothole. Both of them were class-X students of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Government Boys High School.
Locals also put a log and a bamboo inside the pothole as a marker to warn other people about the hidden pothole.
Four accidents had taken place at the same spot since 8:00am, Monowara Begum, at a nearby roadside tea stall, told this correspondent around 1:00pm on the day.
At least 20 vehicles, mostly rickshaws, are victims of accidents at the very spot every day whenever the pothole goes under rainwater, according to local residents.
The stagnant water takes a long time to be removed due to the poor drainage system there.
In fact, many locals are so scared of falling off rickshaws and getting hurt on the appalling Shahabuddin Sharani that they simply cross the road on foot.
They are not worried about getting wet and muddy from splashes made by vehicles going past them.
The beginning part of the road has been in such dilapidated conditions for the last one year. The authorities, however, have turned a blind eye to the problem, locals have alleged.
The situation began to deteriorate since an adjacent road, the one in front of the office of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, was constructed last year.
The condition of another road, starting from near the Islamic Foundation building and ending near the Agargaon BNP Bosti (a slum), in the area is even worse.
The road has nothing to offer its users apart from bumpy rides, locals said.
The Public Works Department (PWD) and the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) have yet to take any step to repair the roads.
Contacted, the PWD and DNCC tried to pin the blame on each other for the dilapidated roads.
Md Kabir Ahmed Bhuiyan, chief engineer of the PWD, said though the area was under PWD jurisdiction, it was the duty of the DNCC to repair the road as the city dwellers pay the latter their tax money.
He said the DNCC had been asking the PWD to officially hand over responsibility of the roads to them. However, the engineer said the DNCC could repair the roads even without the “hand-over”.
"We have already issued several letters to them in this regard," said the PWD engineer, adding that the city corporation sets up temporary cattle markets on the roads without taking their permission every year.
Sayed Quadrat Ullah, additional chief engineer of the DNCC, said the particular damaged roads fell under the jurisdiction of the PWD and said, “It is their (PWD) responsibility to maintain all those roads.”
“The DNCC cannot work in areas that are not in its jurisdiction. We can repair the roads only after a department or agency hands over the responsibility [of the roads] to us,” Quadrat added.